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Action plan to tackle teen smoking in Scotland

BMA Scotland has today published a five-point action plan aimed at tackling teen smoking. Doctors' leaders are calling on the Scottish Government to implement the plan to support the forthcoming purchase age increase for tobacco sales. The recommendations, including banning tobacco vending machines and prohibiting the sale of ten packs of cigarettes, would help enforce the age increase by reducing the availability of cigarettes to young people.

The action plan calls upon the Scottish Government to implement the following measures:

  1. Tobacco vending machines should be banned. Vending machines are often used by young people to buy cigarettes because there are no age checks in place. The banning of cigarette vending machines would reduce the outlets available to young people and therefore restrict their access to cigarettes.
  2. Legislation to prohibit the sale of packs of 10 cigarettes should be introduced. Recent data has shown that many underage smokers buy their cigarettes in packs of ten cigarettes. Smaller packs are cheaper and therefore more appealing to younger people. Prohibiting the sale of ten cigarettes is a necessary step to manage the availability of cigarettes to young people.
  3. A positive licensing scheme, already in place for shops that wish to sell alcohol, should be introduced to support the implementation of the age increase. It is clear that if sellers are not being prosecuted for selling to underage people at the moment then a negative licensing system to enforce the age increase is not a workable solution. Retailers should be encouraged to stop selling to underage children by the introduction of a licence to sell cigarettes, which would be removed for persistent offenders.
  4. Cigarettes should not be displayed at the point of sale. In order to support the tobacco advertising ban that was introduced in the UK in 2003, the advertisement of tobacco products at point of sale should also be prohibited. Such displays at point of sale normalise tobacco use, especially when the packs are placed next to everyday items.
  5. Long-term investment in comprehensive and targeted smoking prevention and cessation services. The recommendations outlined above will not solve the problem if implemented in isolation. This range of measures must be introduced and supported by continual investment in smoking prevention and cessation services in order to tackle the attitudes of young people towards smoking.

From 1 October 2007, the Scottish Executive will raise the purchase age of tobacco from 16 to 18.


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Do you think this action plan will tackle teen smoking? Please leave you comment, your name and location in the feedback box below. Your details will not be published if you so request. (Terms and conditions apply)

"If people want to smoke they will find a way to get cigarettes. If the goverment feels that smoking is a major cause of ill health they should stop the production of cigarettes. The reason they don't is because of the money they make from sales"  - Name and address supplied

"I think Scotland are world leaders in the fight againt smoking and these measures will certainly go a long way towards making it difficult for teenagers to take up smoking" - Donna Towell, Richmond, N.Yorks

"I think this is a brilliant idea. The majority of our teenagers do not know their right from their left as most of them are spoonfed at home by their parents. This plan would make teens stop and rethink about the implications and prognosis of smoking. Teens are vunerable to self-destruction from not only smoking cigarretes but hard substance abuse" - Obiageri Uwakwe

"I think if people that smoked could see in advance the damage they do to their lungs later on in life they would never start. As an ex-smoker myself I feel this way although my lung function has not diminished, my husband who is 60, but with the lung function of a 35 year-old had a heart attack four years ago, so lessons there to be learned. Not growing tobacco
would be the best thing" - Name and address supplied

"I think this plan is a great idea because sometimes people need help and support to enable them change.  By imposing this ban teenagers will get the much desired aid" - Lovett Okeke
"I think this is a brilliant idea and would like to see this happening in my area. I live in Manchester and I have a teenage son that is vulnerable -  Name and address supplied

"Anything that attempts to reduce the number of young smokers has to be seen as a positive step" - Name and address supplied

"The plan is harmful to people's freedom" - Name and address supplied